The affective consequences of cognitive inhibition: devaluation or neutralization?
Frischen A., Ferrey AE., Burt DH., Pistchik M., Fenske MJ.
Affective evaluations of previously ignored visual stimuli are more negative than those of novel items or prior targets of attention or response. This has been taken as evidence that inhibition has negative affective consequences. But inhibition could act instead to attenuate or "neutralize" preexisting affective salience, predicting opposite effects for stimuli that were initially positive or negative in valence. We tested this hypothesis by presenting trustworthy and untrustworthy faces (Experiment 1), strongly positive and negative photographs (Experiment 2), and monetary gain- and loss-associated patterns (Experiment 3) in a Go/No-Go task and assessing subsequent affective ratings. Evaluations of prior No-Go (inhibited) stimuli were more negative than of prior Go (noninhibited) stimuli, regardless of a priori affective valence. Ratings of No-Go stimuli also became increasingly negative (vs. increasingly neutral) when preexisting salience was increased via stimulus repetition (Experiment 4). Our results suggest inhibition leads to affective devaluation, not affective neutralization.